My Cancer History

A little bit more about me and my history. I was diagnosed with breast cancer (DCIS) in June 2004. I had a lumpectomy and 7 weeks of radiation. Believe me, I did all I could to move on very quickly from that and put it behind me. I hated radiation! By week six, I was in misery, and couldn’t wait to be done with the entire ordeal.

Of course, that inspired me to write about it, with the help of my husband. You can read more of our story in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cancer Book (released March 2009).

After that, I happily put cancer behind me. Truthfully, I felt like I “got off easy.” I had fairly minor surgery, and despite how I hated radiation, I did not have to have chemo. I was still me and ready to move on with my life.

But five years later it all changed. Yes, I made it to my five-year mark. Five years and three weeks to be exact. But in July 2009, during my mammogram, the doctor said there was something there. But this one was different. I did NOT have a recurrence. Instead, I had a new cancer, in the same breast as my previous cancer. This was diagnosed as a high-grade sarcoma. It was, as the doctors like to say, “an ugly baby.”

Well, this ugly baby would cost me my breasts. A double-mastectomy was in order. I was diagnosed two days before my birthday.

My emotions were all over the place. Fear, hope, faith, fear, fear, fear…
I was afraid of surgery, anesthesia, pain, recovery, what would I look like, and mostly would I die?

The internet research I did on sarcoma was frightening. I was turning 46 years old, and what I had thought was the downhill slide toward 50, suddenly became a very young 46. I wasn’t ready for all of this. A possible death sentence at 46 was wrong. I was much too young!

Yet there it was in front of me. This time, I wouldn’t be able to ignore my cancer, and its effect on me. This cancer was much too real.

More to come…

This blog has long been defunct. Probably because I didn’t have a topic or theme for the blog. Well, maybe now I do. And it’s a difficult one for me to write about. I don’t want to be a public person known JUST as a cancer survivor. I’m much more than that. I don’t want cancer to become my identity. However, there’s so many twist and turns on this journey through cancer, that maybe I should write about it. Maybe just to not feel so alone at times. I know there are many, many other survivors out there who have walked this road. Hey, and thank God there are so many survivors!! I like that! But it’s still an exclusive club that we’re in. A club we never wanted to join, yet here we are. I’ve been here twice now. Back on this journey, and I don’t want to be alone.
To clarify, I KNOW I’m never alone. As a Christian, I have my faith in God, and He definitely has been with me ALL THE WAY through this journey. No, I don’t understand why I got cancer twice. But I do believe that all things are used for God’s purpose. Maybe mine is just to reach out with love and with hope. Maybe I’ll never know the reason, but I definitely want to focus on moving forward and not back.
This blog was originally called Rebecca’s Journey. What a journey this life is! The theme of this blog is the “New Normal.” The “new normal” is what happens when your life turns upside down, and this you’re supposed to begin again — with many things being the same, but your perspective, and your physical health and looks being so much different.
Everyone reacts differently to having cancer, to getting through treatment, to surviving cancer. Surviving is a word I like to focus on. However, different we may react, only a fellow cancer survivor knows what this feels like at its core. Friends and family can understand, sympathize, and care for you like never before, but sometimes you want to scream: You don’t know what this feels like! But as long as those friends and family members allow you to scream, and still love you anyway, then I guess it’s all right.
I’ve screamed at God. I didn’t understand, and I certainly didn’t want this. But yet I know He’s been there by my side the entire time. Of that, I have no doubt. He’s shaping me, molding me into someone else. It’s obviously not just my physical body that’s being re-shaped. And hopefully, I can take this faith, and this experience, and turn it in to something good.
For now, I just wanted to say hello. Next time, we’ll go into my cancer history, so you’ll learn more about the road I’ve been on. Maybe together, we can share and care for each other, and still be grateful to be here!